Saturday, June 24, 2017
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Kobe stays, name another player in NBA with all career on one team ?

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Kobe Bryant(notes) insisted his contract status wouldn’t be an issue, and he was right.

Now the Los Angeles Lakers can turn their attention to some NBA champion teammates.

Bryant chose not to terminate the final two years of his contract and will remain with the Lakers, the team he wanted to leave just two summers ago.

Team spokesman John Black on Wednesday confirmed Bryant’s decision. The MVP of the NBA finals had until Tuesday to become an unrestricted free agent, but downplayed questions about his future plans throughout the Lakers’ five-game victory over Orlando.

Now the Lakers and Bryant’s agent will negotiate a contract extension. If they somehow cannot agree, he would earn $23 million next season and could opt out next June.

However, Bryant has spent his entire 13-year career with the team, winning four NBA championships and on June 19 he said, “I’m not going anywhere. I know I ain’t going nowhere, so it’s just a waste of our breaths just talking about it.”

He considered leaving in 2004, weighing an offer to join the Clippers before re-signing with the Lakers. When the Lakers struggled in the following years, Bryant said he wanted to be traded after a first-round loss in the 2007 playoffs.

Instead, the Lakers kept Bryant and strengthened the team around him—and now need to find a way to keep the core of that group together.

Bryant has urged the Lakers to bring back unrestricted free agent forwards Trevor Ariza(notes) and Lamar Odom(notes), who played key roles in the team’s recent run to its 15th NBA title.

Ariza made $3.1 million last season and his play in the finals against Orlando is expected to earn him a major pay raise. Odom made $14.1 million last season and is expected to have to take a substantial pay cut to stay.

Guard Shannon Brown(notes) is the Lakers’ third unrestricted free agent. He made $796,000 last season after coming over with Adam Morrison(notes) in the February trade that sent Vladimir Radmanovic(notes) to Charlotte.

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